Honduras Saved from Chavez’s Venezuelan Socialism: Interim President

The interim president of Honduras has said that the ousting of leftist President Manuel Zelaya by the coup has saved the country from plunging into radical Venezuelan-style socialism.

Roberto Micheletti, who was named caretaker president by Congress after the military took over and exiled Zelaya to Costa Rica, said that Zelaya had lost respect for the law.

“President Zelaya was moving the country toward ‘Chavismo’, he was following this model which is not accepted by Hondurans,” he said, using a Spanish term for the style of socialism championed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The coup came following a dispute derived out of Zelaya’s attempt to extend presidential term limits as Chavez has done in Venezuela, lengthening his rule.

On Monday, leftist Latin American leaders had expressed their solidarity with Zelaya and put pressure to reinstate him saying they might otherwise withdraw their envoys from the country. Similary, Washington had said that the coup was illegal, and stone-throwing protesters demonstrated in front of the presidential palace.

Micheletti was installed in the palace on Monday. He is a veteran of Zelaya’s Liberal Party who was head of Congress until he was picked by a near-unanimous vote to head the country until after a more permanent leader is elected in a November 29 election.

Micheletti, a centrist whose ideology blends social programmes with deep conservative beliefs, is considered as enjoying considerable influence while in power but might swing to the right and pound opponents.

He was formerly an ally of Zelaya but opposed his shift to the left and increasingly close friendship with Chavez.

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